Boys Organise Outreach to India

Image supplied by Gráinne Lawlor.

Image supplied by Gráinne Lawlor.

It would probably be reasonable to say that not many people have heard of Hyderabad, a poverty-stricken city in south central India. However, two Dublin boys, James Elliot and Sean Moran of Goatstown and Ballsbridge respectively, recently took part in an outreach campaign which brought them to the rural Indian city between the 4th and 19th of February.

The seeds of the outreach campaign were planted after a family friend arrived in India in September to teach and to set up a curriculum for the International Baccalaureate, an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Many of Hyderabad’s children are the offspring of migrant workers, and many of them have been abandoned or orphaned. Grainne Elliot, mother of James, told NewsFour that she and the boys viewed this as a great opportunity to spend some time in these schools and have a positive impact.

The two lads raised around €500 for the trip by hosting coffee mornings in Ballsbridge, and also relied on donations of books, pens and stationery, which all contributed to the creation of a small library for the students.

James and Sean (pictured above with NewsFour) travelled to India for two weeks and attended the Aga Khan Academy, a three year old boarding school set up by the Aga Khan Foundation.

“In India at the moment the economy is taking off, although many parts of it are still considered third world,” Grainne Elliot told NewsFour. “But they don’t have the educational system to support them. So the idea is to try and improve the education system so that Indians themselves can benefit from the rising economy as opposed to the jobs going to more qualified people from abroad.”

James and Sean spoke to NewsFour about their time spent in India, which also included a sports day for the children of Hyderabad, something that they had never experienced before. The two transition year students had also collected an array of second-hand football shirts, including Manchester United and Shamrock Rovers jerseys, which were subsequently used as prizes for the sports day.

Given the novelty of the experience for the local students, many of them were unaware that they had to cross the white line in order to complete the races.

“It was a once in a lifetime type of experience; everything was so crazy and active,” James said. “In the outreach programme we read them books, talked to them, helped them with their English, gave them some different books, footballs and rugby balls.” Sean told us that the students “seemed really happy, and they showed really positive emotions.”

The two lads are hopeful that a return trip may be on the cards for next year, and there is also the possibility that some of the children from the Indian schools may visit Ireland, but those plans are still very much in the embryonic stage.

Grainne finished by telling NewsFour that the trip was a success for all concerned and that travelling to the region would be beneficial to anyone interested. “It’s not the sort of opportunity to be passed up,” Grainne said. “It’s stunningly beautiful and the people are so warm and friendly. It was just to give them (the children of Hyderabad) a different experience, and they loved it. Hopefully they’ll carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.”

By Craig Kinsella